By Theodore N. Beitchman
The bobos who run the Flyers trotted themselves out yesterday to take arrows for the team’s woeful performance.
And Dave Scott, Comcast’s ambassador to the team, actually said this:
“I’m sorry. You deserve so much better than what we’re dealing with right now… this isn’t what anybody signed up for.
“I really don’t see this as being a 3-4-5-year rebuild at all.
“I’m going to give him [GM Chuck Fletcher, who was sitting right next to him] a blank check. We’re going to get this right.”
Scott and Fletcher are the blind leading the blind.
And the real question is:
How much longer will Comcast put up with owning a team that has alienated much of its fan base by becoming a civic embarrassment?
Empty seats are a sign that the bottom line will soon be affected.
Comcast didn’t get to be a corporate giant with a stock price $48.46 as of this morning and a market cap of $221.4 billion by swimming in waters that don’t turn a profit — or enough of one.
Comcast unloaded the Sixers in 2011 for the deeply discounted $200 million — 11 years later the new owners have jacked its value up to $2.08 billion, according to Forbes.
In the same spirit of Philly loyalty to one of last remaining good corporate citizens left, I say this respectfully:
Brian Roberts should cut his losses and sell the Flyers.
Not just because they have lost 13 straight.
And not just because they have become an embarrassment on the level of Mayor Jim Kenney.
No, it is because no one in the Flyers organization — and I use that term guardedly — knows what they are doing.
Comcast does not know anything about sports in the modern era.
That’s why it is shopping NBC Sports Philadelphia and the rest of its regional sports networks, which makes sense because it has been cutting salaries and expenses for years.
The level of production value, talent level and content is at rock bottom.
NBCSP more resembles an infomercial network than a sports network, and the pandemic undoubtedly depressed ad revenues to the point that Brian Roberts and Co. had had enough.
Comcast has also lost 5 million cable subscribers in the past five years, and can you imagine kids streaming games on their phones, avoiding the ads, which are going unseen?
At least, that’s according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.
Philly-based Comcast’s NBCUniversal planned to start streaming NBCSP – which broadcasts Phillies, 76ers and Flyers games – earlier this spring, but the strategy was halted over concerns it would conflict with NBCU’s overall streaming strategy.
The report also said NBCU is pondering whether to sell NBCSP and its other regional sports networks.
The Phillies are in the middle of a 25-year, $2.5 billion television broadcast agreement, which included the team acquiring a 25% stake in the network and a portion of advertising revenue. In addition to that, the Flyers and NBCSP are both Comcast properties.
NBCSP does not air Eagles games but does have popular pre-game and postgame coverage (above), while NBCSP’s sister station NBC10 was named the official television station of the Eagles a few years ago.
All four Philadelphia sports teams have been producing more and more of their own media content in recent years.
NBCU said earlier this year that it plans to shut down its NBCSN national sports channel by the end of the year and the company also pulled out of the bidding to renew broadcast rights to NHL games.
Aside from Philly, NBC has regional sports networks in Boston, Chicago, Portland, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. It also has a minority interest in SNY.